Admit it - do you always raise the microphone up and point it down?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Wednesday September 18, 2019
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Watch someone setting up a microphone for an instrument (other than a singer). They will raise the boom to higher than head height, then point the microphone down at the instrument.

OK, lets examine the logic in this. Perhaps...

Honestly, it isn't hard to get as cynical as this if you just practice a little every day ;-)

I am very much in favor of people placing mics as they feel is best, but I can't help getting the feeling that they do this because that's what they have seen, and then of course perpetuate the myth.

Let's start from first principles. The average distance from the ground of the human ear is somewhere around 160-170 centimeters, give or take. Acoustic instruments have without exception been designed to sound good to the human ear, so why ever place the mic higher than that?

Then consider that people most often enjoy music from a seated position, so the height of the ear falls to around 140 cm. (4 feet 6 inches for the metrically challenged), so there is a good case to make that a mic should never be placed higher than this.

Try it! I guarantee that the mic will look ridiculously low. But that's where people listen from, so could all those people be wrong?

Yes, that's it! What we really need is to bring listening into line with microphone technique and give people a box to stand on so they can 'listen down' on an instrument the same way that mics do!

So next time you set a mic on an acoustic instrument, ask yourself whether you are aping microphone technique you have seen elsewhere? Or have you thought for yourself? More important...

Have you experimented for yourself?

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